Back after a break
By N Jagannath Das / ENS | Published: 11th October 2012 05:11 PM |
It’s back to business. After eight weeks to recuperate from an injury on her left leg, a rejuvenated Saina Nehwal will resume her international campaign at the Denmark Super Series tournament in Odense from October 16-21. This has been one of the longest breaks from the game in her career.
After her bronze medal at the London Games, she skipped two Super Series tournaments. Post-Olympics, she has been busy attending felicitation functions and even a sortie in an Air Force trainee jet. The 22-year-old Saina was back on the courts at the Pullela Gopichand Academy four weeks back, preparing for year-end tournaments. “I had taken a five-week break earlier but this break was my longest. The tournament in Odense is a premier one and I can’t skip it,” says Saina, who leaves for Denmark on Saturday. Excerpts from an interview…
Returning to competition: It will be difficult after such a long break. There will be a few butterflies in the stomach. The first match will be crucial.
Preparing for the Olympics and Super Series tournaments: One has to be better prepared for major tournaments. There is more intensity among the players.
Relief after an Olympic medal: Yes, there is a sense of relief and I will be able to play with more freedom. There will be no major changes to my game. A few matches will improve my fitness level. By the time the Commonwealth and Asian Games come up in 2014, I need to further improve my fitness.
Rise in expectations: Of course, expectations will rise after the Olympic medal. I like winning and that will be my priority. But it is also a nice feeling that everyone wants to be Saina Nehwal and more people want to play badminton.
Improving her ranking: It is difficult to break into the top two this year as there are only four or five tournaments to go, but I hope to break into the top 3 in the rankings.
The Chinese threat: They come well prepared and, overall, dominate world badminton. They have so many top players that if you get past one, there will be another waiting. It happened to PV Sindhu, who beat Li Xuerui but then went down to Jiang Yanjiao in the China Super Series.
Endorsement deals and sponsporship: When you play well, endorsements follow. Sponsorship-wise I’m happy to be among the top badminton players in the world, in Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei’s league.